8 December 2011
Success only succeeds in large companies if the entire organization buys into the mission. So I'm concerned that the astonishing engineering effort that produced the Chevrolet Volt will end up fizzling out because GM's CEO, Daniel Akerson, hasn't bought into the mission.
Reuters reporter Larry Ingrassia, a longtime Wall Street Journal automotive industry observer, interviewed Akerson on camera, primarily to ask him about the Volt's battery issues and the federal investigation.
Then Ingrassia prompted Akerson to talk about the wildly popular Chevy Cruze, which gets better gas mileage than the Volt. Why would you want to buy a Volt, he asked?
Akerson's response is a complete head-scratcher. (Direct link to the question and answer.)
A ringing endorsement of an innovative design is not what I got out of his response. The answer suggests that it's not a true game-changer for the company.
And if you're in engineering, that's disheartening. It's disheartening because you're constantly pushed to meet unreasonable deadlines, to juggle flaming torches, and meet marketing requirements that often puzzle you.
And, when you produce that masterwork–and the Volt really is an engineering marvel–it's disheartening to hear that your CEO can't reflect that effort and its promise.
Am I off-base? Or do you, more often than not, see your own management not completely dialed in to the values you're designing into your electronics systems?